Trin …… the bell rang, it was 4.30 pm. It was the month of June and there was a heavy downpour. I finished my day’s classes at St.Joseph’s College. I could not step out of the college gate due to the heavy rain. I waited for some time, hoping that it would stop raining, but there were no such sign. So I decided to move. A stone’s throw from my college lay the busy Brigade Road. It is as busy as bees, so much so one could not make out whether the vehicle on the move was a car or a bus – they moved so fast.To compete with them the crowds too, irrespective of colour, gender and age, were moving very fast without even looking at each other. Neither rain nor storm would slow down busy Brigade Road. I wished once at least this busy road would stop moving and remain still.
I came out in the rain, trying to cover my head with my hands and began to run towards the Brigade Road, breaking into the crowd to find my way to the bus stop to catch bus No 254, which goes to my place siluvepura. There are very few buses to my place, so I had to rush to find the bus; if not, I would have had to wait for another two hours to catch the next one. These anxious thoughts were running through my mind when suddenly I slipped on the foot-path and accidentally fell on a girl, knocking her down. She lost her balance and fell on the road. Immediately, even before I could say sorry, a santro car raced on her and smashed her right leg. She screamed loudly in pain, bringing the whole traffic on Brigade Road to a standstill, and fell unconscious.
“Oh, no …” I screamed looking at her. The rain water was washing away the blood from her wounded leg. I was helpless and was trembling with fear; with the help of others I took her to St.Philomena’s Hospital as it was quite close by. Her innocent face and the flowing blood seemed shouting at me that ‘I was guilty’. The doctors examined her horrible condition, and immediately took her to the I.C.U. I came out of the hospital and cried a lot. I had never cried so profusely in my life before. A nurse called me Mr. and gave me the hand bag of that wounded girl. I found a phone diary in which her name was written. It read, Divya Jyothi , age 21,(two years younger than me ); address: door no 9, Victoria layout, 6th cross, Bangalore -47. Her phone No. was 080-25576832. She was a Catholic, belonging to Sacred Heart Parish. She had lost her father. I called her mother over the phone, and told her that her daughter had met with an accident. As soon as she heard the news she burst into tears. I could make it out from the telephone. She rushed to the hospital which was just half a kilometre from her house. She enquired from me and wept bitterly. I just could not bear the sight of her crying so loudly, so I went away from her. Fear had filled my mind and guilt had choked my heart. I did not know what to do, where to go and whom to tell. I went to the Sacred Heart Church and cried and pleaded with God that I did not do it purposely. Though nobody had noticed when I knocked her down, my conscience would not keep quiet; it pricked me, kept on telling me that I had committed a crime. Who could escape from one’s own conscience? After an hour or so I left the place and went home by bus. I did not speak to anybody, not even dared to look at them, because all looked like that girl to me, and I was shivering. I had high fever and severe headache. I tried to sleep but could not. The image of Divya Jyothi had filled my mind. I could not think anything but her.
Early next morning, instead of going to the college, I,went straight to the hospital, B ward, bed no 27. I saw Divya Jyothi lying on the bed. She had closed her eyes. Her innocent face reduced my anxiety and fear and she looked very beautiful. Her mother told me that she had to undergo a surgery at 10.45 am. I was waiting near the operation theatre half an hour before. Around 10:45 a.m. the nurse brought her to the operation theatre. Before entering it, she opened her eyes and saw me standing. I wanted to say sorry, but by the time I could open my mouth, they took her inside the operation theatre and closed the door. Her mother came and stood next to me. During those moments, I often looked at the watch. The operation went on till 12:15 pm; that hour and a half seemed like one and half years to me. When the surgeon came out I asked him how she was. He said that he tried his best, but there was no other alternative, but to amputate the leg. Hearing this, the mother yelled loudly in agony. ‘Doctor’ she shouted, “If you want, take my legs, but give the leg to my daughter.” This time I could not control my emotions; I too wept bitterly with her. I cursed myself for ruining the future of a young girl. I could not stay there any longer, and just left that place.
When I reached home, I could not speak, my voice was choked. I could not eat, nor swallow a morsel of food. My mother gave me a crocin tablet, for I had high fever. I tried to sleep but the painful scream of Divya Jyothi woke me many times from the bed . Next day as I was getting ready to go out, my mother told me not to go to college, because I was not well. But I said, ‘I want to go’ and left the house. All that I wanted was to see her and ask pardon from her; so I went to the hospital. As soon as I saw her face, my temperature went down. Her mother introduced me to her saying, “He was the one who brought you to the hospital and took care of you.” Joining her hands she thanked me. I was moved by her kind gesture, yet felt bad because she was thanking the one who had brought her to such a condition. She said, “I have lost my leg, I have no future. I had many dreams in life, but…. now everything went in vain”, and she cried. I tried to console her. As I was speaking to her, suddenly she told me angrily that someone had pushed her from behind that day, and that was how she fell on the road. She started cursing that person for ruining her life. I felt very miserable. I wanted to tell her that it was I who did that act, but looking at her angry face, I refrained, and withdrew from there saying that I had to go to the college. My mouth was dry and I was sweating. As I was about to leave the ward, she asked me in polite tone, ‘What’s your name?’. I said ‘Jude’ and left her and went home. What a name! Jude is the name of a saint, patron of hopeless cases. Here I am, instead of helping people in their hopelessness, causing them lose hope.
All through the day, the words of Jyothi were repeatedly coming to my mind and made me feel guilty. I was not able to hide the truth, my conscience was pricking me again and again, and I decided to tell her the truth. I spent a sleepless night again. I went straight to the hospital next morning. It was the third day since the incident took place. I wished her ‘good morning’; she looked quite sad and did not reply. Her facial expression told me that something had gone wrong. I asked her mother, ‘What happened?’ She said that Jyothi was engaged to Jerrin (a software engineer) a month ago. He had come to see Jyothi,that morning and looking at her condition had declared that he did not want to marry a handicapped girl and suffer in life. She had begged him not to leave her, but he said, ‘No’ and went away. She burst into tears as she said this. She started cursing God for the injustice done to her innocent daughter and the culprit who brought her to this condition. I could no more hide the truth. I let out the truth, saying, “The culprit is me, I was the one who knocked her from behind, not purposely but accidentally.” It fanned the flame of her anger. She got hold of my collar and started shouting loudly saying, “Why did you do that? I thought you are a good man, a small mistake of yours has ruined my daughter’s whole life.” She told me sternly, “Now …you must marry her and give life to her”, and she went away. I was in a dilemma, because I wanted to become a Catholic priest and my parents and relatives too wished the same. I did not know what to do, what to choose – whether to fulfil my and my parents’ dream or to marry this girl in compensation for my fault. I simply stood still and dumbfounded, and collapsed on the chair.
“Jude” she called me in a polite voice, and asked me to sit close to her. She told me, “I understand you, don’t feel bad and guilty, I know you did not do it purposely. Well,…….it was my fate. Don’t be worried about what my mother said. If you really want to marry me out of your free will, you marry me, but not because my mother forced you to. Don’t even marry me in compensation for your fault; by doing that, you will not be able to give back my leg.” She went on –“Every choice we make in life must be free and of our own will, not forced by others. ‘Don’t make choices for others’ sake, make choices for your sake’, for we need to run our race by ourselves, and others can’t run for us. They can only watch us run from outside. Let your choice be free and out of your conviction; then you will be happy with your choice.” I was really inspired by her conviction, and tears rolled from my eyes.
She gently touched my cheek to wipe my tears ……that touch woke me up….. from my sleep. When I opened my eyes, there was no one except my mother. She said, “Good morning.” Only then, with a terrible start but with sweet surprise I realised that it was all a dream. What a terrible dream it was! I could not really get the picture of that girl Divya Jyothi before my eyes. But her words were very clear. They kept on ringing in my ears –“don’t make choices for others’ sake, but make choices for your sake.” As I was discerning and preparing myself to go to Navasadhana, a Jesuit pre-Novitiate in Bangalore, her inspiring words helped me to discern well. As I came out of my room to feel the warmth of sunrise, I asked myself sincerely, my father wants me to become a priest, my mother wants me to become a priest and my relatives wants me to become a priest; but..do I really want to become a priest?…..In my dream,
“She taught me to make choices in life for myself and to live my Life.”
By Leo Florence .SJ